Girl Interrupted

I was a little taken aback recently. It was just a few words, but you know how they can be. Little bowling balls aimed in the right direction striking misery into our well crafted lives and crushing our faith and confidence.

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Same things different decade same hope that being would be enough.

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Only difference now is, I know it is enough. And always was.

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This is my daughter and our dog . They had just won sixth prize for waggiest tail and smiliest eyes in a country dog show.. ( the dog not the child) They were the happiest creatures in the world and I cried like an idiot seeing them jumping up and down with pleasure..

It was just pure joy.. My pride for her was physical. As lovely as ice cream.

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This is her winning entry for the Borders Art Fair, kid’s Art competition. (Bit of a theme here) and same utter pride and pleasure in their success…

Taking pride in anything we have courage to do, should be shouted from the rooftops. Happiness in our achievements can be celebrated in a whisper or a scream but should always feel deserved. When you find it, remember to feel it, snapshot the moment, breathe it in and keep it close. I loved that there was such delight in 6th prize. As they had stood in line patiently waiting for any colour of rosette, watching other dogs take the stage, having any colour at all was perfect. There is plenty of time for being competitive in life. As human beings we spend our lives comparing ourselves. How lovely it was to simply be rewarded for being.

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Friends. Use your imagination and energy for one thing and one thing only….. being colourfully creative.. Everything else is a waste of time.

On countless occasions recently I have seen and felt the aftermath of hyped- up imaginations going on overdrive and wreaking needless havoc for non-existent problems and comparing lives, pointlessly. Why is it so hard to believe that there are still people worth believing in? Why do we see a set of beautiful paint colours and insist on meddling it into sludgy brown.

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Seriously. Are we looking for reasons to prove the world is flat?

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Stop talking about each other and talk to each other. Appreciate that there are things you won’t understand about everyone and that we all have failings but leave theirs alone.  Gaps don’t need filling in every silence.

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Our spiralling  thoughts can be our own worst enemy.

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Damaging potentially gorgeous life experiences with questions and doubts.

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Especially if they loop into the weave of things which are not of our control. Or things which are none of our business.

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Believe that you matter.

This doesn’t mean you don’t care for those that you love and care for. But absorbing the weight of everyone’s problems without first knowing that you are ok, will leave you without a shield and that doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes people aren’t ready to know your stuff without bringing theirs to the table first. You won’t know this until you start talking, so choose your tribe wisely giving yourself permission to edit when people ask how you are. This is another reason for self expression through any activity which gets your fury out.. get digging in earth, get dancing, get making. But don’t get lost in the rejection you get if you don’t get heard. It’s not because you didn’t shout loudly enough. It just fell on deaf ears.

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Perhaps enabling your troup with a balance of expression, nurturing and inspiration is a good start. when I was told recently that not everyone could be as positive as me, I didn’t get the chance to say this. “Nobody is positive all the time. Pain kinda does that. So does being a mum to an interestingly expressive wonder-child. But we are learning together our route through this chapter. And actually, what we do all have is a choice to go ahead or go under.”

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And to be able to survive both your own path and help other people, be very careful of judging those who always have your back. You never know when you’ll need each other most.. A good team is crucial. They are sometimes unexpected and wonderful.

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Be the enlightened creative version of you. Float above the dramas created by those on your path, tempting your attention and energy. People may be a bit confused by your apparent refusal to absorb their barbs but.. its a destination choice not your forever home …

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You must consider how best to serve your best self.. your imaginative wonderful creative self. The one that if you were the best parent ever, you would be advising yourself to be. Make stuff. Do stuff, meet up with other people and then scoop up the ones who need your help and find out what you can achieve that you were always told you couldn’t. To help others do the same. Also, in answer to the previous question, I know that positivity is contagious. That every single one of the brilliant people we come into contact with in our classes, are closer to being able to help others, and by knowing that, are stepping out of behavioral patterns tying them to medication or worse. We are building far more than a portfolio.

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And that gets us all out of bed.

All we ever have is ourselves and our unique gifts.

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Seeing you thrive, develop, be your most colourful self is what your family and circle of friends (should) want for you.

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Setting you up for your own adventures…

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It is a joy to get older and wiser, accruing and cementing values and idiosyncrasies If we waste our time picking holes in what other people are doing, saying, thinking, wearing, watching, reading, painting, believing, what are we giving up in return?

The freedom of peaceful non judgemental thoughts?..

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And the right not to be judged in return.

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Our life is like a story. Each chapter unfolds as we go. Some chapters are harder and longer than others and seem to go on for ever. If we use up our precious reserves of energy by fuelling animosities and looking for reasons why other’s are failing; our focus shifts away from the story we are in.

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And the stories we are telling with our hands, hearts and voices aren’t nearly as much fun as what we could be getting up to..

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I have this weird and indescribable belief that there is a truth, and a reason to do what we do. Nothing to do with religion or karma, but an instinct which is strong enough to keep us safe, fed and moving through each dark passage. It is the picture in our heads we keep safe until we get there. And it works.

Believe you are worth something wonderful, that your burning desire to make and write and grow another world for people to smile at, is why you are here. It isn’t easy for someone unhappy to let you live that life. In the hope that you’ll pop back in your neat little box and cause no embarrassment , they might pick away at you until you stop, or ignore you completely.

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Ill health and joint immobility have done their usual over winter, and still we are in limbo with several surgical procedures to come..

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But as we drove away on a recent epic drive, which was both long and painful, surrounded by cushions and in an automatic car.. my awesome daughter reminded me that this wasn’t the moment to simply survive, but to flourish. We channelled a flourish for 600 miles..

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And that’s the thing.. if you’re going to be in pain, better to (where possible) try and distract yourself by not being alone, try and create at least some memories despite what the Gods have shoved in your face… The things we do can be ploughed through , enjoyed or celebrated and rejoiced for the happiness they give us. Life isn’t a list. It’s a chance. People fortunate enough to be on your path, your offspring, your friends.. they are lucky to have you, your crazy colours, your big heart..

and all your creations !!

So me and my dawg and our arthritic paws will carry on being positive . Who knows which one of us will get a waggy tail prize next time .

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Much love my friends,

Happy Easter xxx

L xxxxx

Fire in your belly..

Lat week my delightful handy man was telling me a story. For Christmas last year he had been given a tin of seeds. They were chilli seeds and he had never gardened before. But he grew them anyway, and regaled to me the tale of the compost, the splitting of seedlings and the abundance of lavishing love and care upon his precious crop.

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A few months in, and his three-year-old was leapt upon grabbing a huge juicy chilli from the fridge to the sound of her parents concerned cry of ‘Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.

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Only this chill was the size of a red pepper. And so were all the rest of a mammoth bounty. He was confused. So, he did some earnest googling…

Apparently, to really grow peppers properly, one doesn’t feed them quite so much, one doesn’t wrap them in little chilli shaped blankets, or put them in the airing cupboard.

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Oh no. You starve them. The chemical reaction needs to be created inside them so they can BE a chilli only when they have less attention and do their thing themselves…

And then they become who they’re meant to be and ultimately taste like you want them to…..

And I was thinking…

One of my more cheeky neighbours recently, made a comment regarding how huge my bank account must be,  to have a garden full of flowers, and to create what we do.Image result for vintage woman fainting

Oh…… if only they knew…….

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Often, our most incredible journeys begin when we are penniless. Or have no family or friends to support us. Or when our health has failed which we had relied on and always thought would hold us up. The reserves you have, are unbelievable. To draw on what you can be and do without being spoon fed and nurtured regularly by well-meaning loved ones is sometimes a very worthwhile pursuit…..

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Personally, we dealt with ridiculous levels of change, all at once..Leaving teaching, leaving my best friends behind, leaving our choir, doctors, dentists we knew, my daughter’s friends, and school, our home, and our routine. But I KNEW it had to be done, and my previous blogs have told you our story. But the point is, we moved to a little village where we began again, on crutches, on our own, to a house that needed completely doing up and two, no .. including the furry ones  …five, mouths to feed.

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…….In my mind I could sort of see how it might be, but I didn’t want to assume too much. Just pure blind faith and an innate craving to move forward.

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Having trust in what you can’t see…Teaching is a bit like this. Imagine the most perfect classroom ever created, all the bells and whistles and every available technological device.. ready to search for the answer to any question in a second.. But how will this create a learner? A resilient learner who can make mistakes and learn from them, look and look again, look and look further.. and not just believe the first answer they find. When teaching was becoming more difficult because my crutches got in the way, I also saw less and less of a generation willing to open themselves to the vulnerability of not knowing. and having to reach a goal themselves. I truly hope that one day schools begin to understand that the key to teaching is to start from scratch and allow children to find things out on their own.. not from Wikipedia.

      The perfect classrooms ? Yes.. But Lets have a few more books please !!!

Sometimes your unique character and true gifts will only shine when the rug is completely out from under your feet.

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Let’s be better at waiting to get good at stuff. You-tube can’t hold the brush for you. It can’t show you how to create your unique language unless you actually do it as well.

The longer a hot pepper ages, the spicier they become, increasing capsaicin and creating a far spicier experience…Apparently.

Hold out on the over feeding…..

( except for your loved ones.. give them cake )

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Then you can set the world on fire..xxxxxx

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The Holy Grail

 Do you ever wonder what the meaning of life is?

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A few things I’ve noticed along the way seem to end up in the same spot.

Here…

Right back where you started

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This came about recently when my daughter was watching a series of life hacks for kids. It is a great idea, and the kid doing it was very confident and sassy.. showing lots of ideas on how to do things better. But it is the tame end of a generation in a crazy rush to create more, have more, be more, talk more …..

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And sometimes listen less.

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 Listening…

The battle ground parents and teachers spend a long time preaching about. But sometimes just watching and absorbing through copycat behaviour can be a bit less likely to have you reaching for gin.

We all had posters in our classrooms saying what kids had to do… But having a vision of how other people should behave is useless if they can’t see it. If nobody is listening to you, maybe they haven’t been led your  example .. yet…

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Watch the Animals

We can learn a lot from our pets… our dog Skye does what I realised I also do in life. She gets into her bed, twists round in circles, pulling at the corners, getting it right, flipping it up again and huffing a lot until it is the right shape to plonk her bones on.

Dogs are forgiven. They don’t really need much more than comfy spot, attention and love… you can see where I’m going here.. In life, we all do it. We strive and strive for a perfect, better version of the thing we want or people we think we need, or new styled version of ourselves which will prove to the world we have arrived.. again..

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We all love a good tweak.. , twerking may have to wait for new knees.  it’s the tweaking and the journey to getting that ‘us-ness’ right, that makes the final result so much more enjoyable..Think big life changers here…

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( Ok.. not that perfect..)

But some amazing things do take time.

Sometimes a Long time.

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Before I got my best bed ever comfy bed, I had given my daughter my bedroom in my last house, and gave a friend my bed frame because he and his girlfriend didn’t have a bed. The bigger picture of knowing the right one would come along at some point in this crazy story of ours. was paved with numerous nights of being crawled over by several animals and a small person who all thought it was quite hilarious.. But was worth it.

( And often very funny)

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No, not my bed either.. but isn’t this gorgeous! .

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And if your bed has a jaggy mattress or person in it.. walk away.. It can never be comfy.

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Go Big but love the little things.

Being ambitious and very easy on yourself at the same time in whatever the endeavour seems the only sane way to fly. Kind of knowing you deserve to look up but knowing the best things are happening right there under your feet , nose and usually in my case leaning on my lap on the sofa.

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Painting is a similar process to finding that elusive snoozing place. . Absolutely, striving for that perfect piece which sums up your creative  completeness is a worthy and wonderful endeavour. It is the botanical gardens of our green fingered efforts and should be pursued ..

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BUT,  if you want to deviate,  splattering ink and charcoals, drawing in the sand with a stick, and making a sandcastle in an expressive burst of creative passion do that instead..

This was done with  a piece of string, in a couple of minutes and probably just stuck in a drawer.. knowing the lack of ego my friend has, .. but it was just lovely.. Just twiddle some string and see what happens…

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When a friend is there. Be there too. Completely.

Hang on to your good friends, even if you deviate on life’s paths. Nobody will get you like they do or laugh at your strange habits… But they all know a different bit of you, like a perfect jigsaw of your complete self.

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And sometimes… the best and most perfect moment of connection can happen with a person we would never have thought of as a friend, or so briefly we blink and they are gone. A moment on the beach, on holiday, or a comment in the street . Cherish each and every connection as a true friendship. You never know who will be in your life and for what reason, or for how long. Take notice of the possibility in an exchange, and look them in the eye.

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Love your neighbours.

Having just had flu, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to mine. This week we were very fortunate to have been given Fresh mackerel from a neighbour and apples ( in a bid to make an apple cake for one of them I think..) In this village over the last year I have given, amongst other things, .. a bottle of bourbon, bread, a double ham and cheese toastie to a stranded winter holiday maker, and numerous cupcakes and seeds, lifts in the car, shoes, and many hours of village help in classes and at community events..No automatic alt text available.

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There is always something you can offer somebody else. No matter how rubbish you believe you are, in your current bodily state/mental state.. you are valuable to someone else. And they in turn will be pleased to know they can help you. But often when you least expect.542904819-612x612

Keep Learning

I am endeavouring to open my own daughter’s eyes right now to different ideas about religion, belief and opinion. So she might balance her thoughts with a good idea of different possibilities. It seems to me that at the bottom of most things is the essential message of being good.  That’s fine. But I will be telling her It doesn’t mean you have to be boring or feel bad.  You have to be present and kind. And for me it shouldn’t be about following a pattern. There are a million ways of being respectful but not brainwashed, and living with abundance without walking around feeling guilty about what doesn’t interest you.

And Don’t take people’s opinions of you too seriously…

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So…

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Key for me is this;

Listen Better

  To have a good friend, you need to be one . You switch this computer/phone/ipad off and you hear what is being said. How often do you find yourself mentally doing your shopping list in the middle of a conversation?

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Don’t moan about the weather

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Unless you land on a dessert island, there isn’t much you can do about it. And in truth, the cycle of the seasons keeps things moving in the garden, an excuse to raid the garden centre, and gives you the chance to wear different outfits. What’s not to like. If we constantly feel we want something different, we might never be here. Get soaked, get too hot, freeze, wrap up like a burrito, wait an hour and the weather will change anyway..

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Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today..

Enjoy what you have right now, with all you have, because it will change and there will be loss and seasons.  And nobody knows what will happen next. I’m saying this in relation to the weather, the person in front of you, the time spent with your children, the animal on your lap. It is precious

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Be Here Now.

Listen to the tap on the shoulder telling you to do that thing

I hope it is the beginning of something wonderful. 

Love Liz xxxx

 

 

 

Chez Nous

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of living in a white cottage by the sea….

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(Not in the sea)

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It just had to be magical .

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An old boat fashioned into a hut? . A perfect childhood den..

 

So, fast forward forty (odd) .. actually very odd years…but that’s another story…Wigwams in the garden/ hide outs in-between sheds/ childhood bedrooms designed and redesigned for a (usually- bored parent)  /numerous crazy junk-filled student flats/ an escaped marital castle. a temporary refuge and our hug house which help put us back together again…..but still, this little dream of a little blue and white house remained..

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My small person and I kept feeding the plan, despite massive hurdles. It had to have no stairs, and be a place of sanctuary . Where flowers grew, and the kettle was on.

 

We imagined…..

A seasidey, comfortable little house where people would feel at home, hydraengas in the garden and shells around the edges, inspired by trips to France and Greece and a love of deep Blue from iconic paintings and seaside holidays, ( So much so that my daughter has blue as her middle name.)

Image result for ultramarine blueI knew all our years of looking would be worth it. The ingredients were coming together  and we had faith in finding our home.  We knew it was here.

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As you already know, we spent a long time over the last year doing the groundwork, the garden, the inside etc. Finally, this week, we managed to get the walls done and it was like coming home..

…Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the mess was worth it. !

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We were lucky to have the best village painter and the weather held out so we got the job done in two days. Finally the whole picture came together .

Day one.

 

Day two.

So.. here is our home…Image result for heart

 

And the stripey detail drainpipes..

And the funky tattoo doorstep with the fishermen donated by the other beach hut lady.

And the beach blue windows..

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And the additional path colours.. Which will be a lifelong project I think. A bit like the forth road bridge…

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And the fab shipwreck wood half gate which will keep our neighbour’s little dog from escaping when we pup sit… ( It is a work in progress as it needed to go up before the rain hit… )… Another masterpiece from my dustbin- cover-upper-erer…

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And the beach…( which will be a long term working painting given the temperamental nature of my joints and the weather here!)

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That’s Molly giving it the once over… Again, it needs another coat.. not least because of the er.. snow affect my lovely painter accidently added in a mini blizzard. But also it will have more detail in it as time goes by…

Hope you like it. Think my six year old self would be quite pleased, given how many small people have congregated here this Summer!Image result for lifebuoy

I can feel the weather and my body getting less adaptable already, so I am grateful for these last few months of long sunshiney days. If I have had an ounce of energy it has gone into making what we have here, chipping away until each piece is done. It has been done on a shoestring, it hurts, its frustrating, but for now the biggest things are complete. You need the patience of a saint to build something yourself, and the skin of a rhino to throw off your critics….My rhino skills are sadly lacking but the positive comments and new friends made over the fence have more than made up for that.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible xx

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Love Liz

And six year old Liz xxx

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Homes and Gardens

I believe if you are supposed to be/do/get somewhere.. you will.. if you put in the effort and get out of your own way. ..Sometimes things are worth waiting for..

Somehow the more we stare at something directly, the less likely it is to move.. or boil or in fact perform.. Life is what happens in the margins of your essay.. pay closer attention to your doodles..

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And sometimes you have to make, remake and make something over and over again. You thought it was done and it breaks, or you have to walk away or it burns down ( a friend had this happen recently… a terrible ordeal, but she has told me a little re- modelling isn’t a bad thing, or your dream disappears, or it gets given to a passing traveller ( yes my first caravan literally was sold without my knowing for £100 with all my grandparent’s stuff inside) … ( wierdly as I have written this.. twice I’ve lost all the content and had to re- write…. )

But you start again. …

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I could write an entire blog on the patience needed to create this one… Ten years of trying, multiple broken dreams along the way.. But she has existed now in her own special way for nearly ten years now!! A to B to create the perfect family home is often a circuitous route through the rest of the alphabet…………

 

I made this home twenty years ago. For the family I thought I was making. I was fit, hopeful and full of dreams. I also taught high school full time.

 

It was meant to be the big chapter, the one where it all comes together. But there is only so much fairy dust can do.. and after it not turning out quite as planned,  when we left it, mini and I left with a carrier bag. Hope, trust in a support service and a hotel with a big bed and an extremely  lockable door…. it was the scariest day of my life. My friends told me to leave…. It was just a house.

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But,  a few months on, we created this house. …

And for five years it was our hug house. It built us back up and we evolved together, getting to meet some amazing people on the way. .. Again, personal issues followed us , and the stairs too were also getting tricky on crutches, … so after it was clear we needed to jump again, we decided a dream life by the sea was the only sensible choice.

The house sold in a week of being on the market and we had to find our dream home

( and the cash to buy ) it in twelve weeks..Image result for people in a box

…………we wanted something like this

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And I wrote an awful lot of affirmations….. Kept believing it would be ok and kept an absolute focus on what it would be like…

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But you can give them the occasional kick up the bum…….

We stumbled on this little number last February after driving around the area for a week…. And we saw its heart and potential…….

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The estate agent rang the next day, after we had only seen it for ten minutes. I heard myself saying I would buy it….

 

A year on;  This is our house now.. There are many days I hurt too much to move my hands or, in the winter, most of my limbs.. so when there is some energy, I go for it. Paint, rest stop, paint, plant, rest , stop, paint , put washing on, feed someone, paint, stop, etc ….

Lately as the weather has been kinder to limbs and there has been no school or  homework for small person.. I have mostly been out here… making this kind of thing… We have loved being outside creating,  painting  and planting , from early in the morning to a chorus of chirruping Starlings.. It hurts, but it hurts whether you keep going or whether you give in. Armed with voltarol and pain patches….

And for the beach Hut obsessed of us…

In a few weeks, the exterior makeover should be completed by a local painter too, with a few extra bits I have been painting.  When we moved here, a neighbour asked me why I was doing so much to this little house. It was quite simply meant to look like this. Our things have come home. As have we. And I don’t know when the good days will become less and less often. If you get poorly, better to have flowers to look at than gravel. And if you can’t change the world right now, at least you can paint a pattern on it..

Enjoy the home you make with each and every one of your senses and have a great Summer. Enjoy the sunshine, some things are worth waiting for. xx

Liz xx